,,A 43-year-old man who sits outside Grand Central Terminal in New York City reportedly makes $200 per hour collecting handouts from passersby. Will Andersen, who sits with his dog Rizzo, makes at least enough to rent a room in northern Manhattan and buy dog food, he told the New York Post Wednesday, although research shows that panhandling is typically not so lucrative.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton urged New Yorkers this week not to give money to homeless people and panhandlers. "One of the quickest ways to get rid of them is not to give to them,” he said. “New Yorkers who are complaining so much about it, well, one of the things they can do is stop contributing to it.” He also said that those who panhandle often use pets or animals to entice people to donate.
“People are more generous because I have a dog, 100 percent. They throw me a dollar and say, ‘That’s for the dog,’ ’’ Andersen told the Post.
A myriad of perceptions and myths about panhandlers in the United States abound, with the predominant one being that those who sit on the sidewalk asking for handouts are lazy and spending whatever money they get on alcohol or drugs. In 2013, researchers in San Francisco surveyed 146 panhandlers and found that most make less than $25 per day. And while it found that 94 percent spent that money on food, it also found that 44 percent would use it for drugs or alcohol and that 25 percent and 32 percent of those surveyed were addicted to alcohol and drugs, respectively.
In January 2014, a couple from Sacramento made the news when they reportedly garnered about $366 in two hours. They had two children, aged five and seven years, with them, whom police said they had used to arouse the sympathies of passersby. In 2012, a panhandler in Oklahoma claimed he made $60,000 a year on the street, telling a police officer, "I'm lazy and I made $60,000."
A survey conducted in 2001 on panhandlers' income and spending patterns in Toronto found that 70 percent would prefer a minimum-wage job over panhandling. The median monthly income from panhandling was found to be $300. "Few panhandlers earn extremely large amounts of money," the researchers said their findings indicated.
As of September, there were 59,305 homeless people in New York City, including 23,923 homeless children, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.